Puerto Plata offers amazing things to do and see. This gem of the Dominican Republic will quickly steal your heart, and it might just become your favorite place to visit.
You can explore the beautiful countryside, go on a zip-line tour in the mountains, go whale watching off the coast, or bask in the sun at one of the many white sand beaches.
If you’re looking for some cultural attractions, there is plenty to explore too. Visit historic sites such as Fortaleza San Felipe and colonial buildings like the Amber Museum and San Felipe Church. Or take a cable car up to Mount Isabel de Torres for incredible views.
With so much to do in Puerto Plata, it’s easy to see why it’s becoming one of the most popular cruise ports in the Caribbean.
The cruise ports of Puerto Plata
Puerto Plata is a wonderful port city that sits along the north coast of the Dominican Republic. This coastline is also called “The Amber Coast“, which we will talk about a little later on in this travel guide.
Now one of the most highly-rated cruise ports in the Caribbean, Puerto Plata is making a comeback. You see, the port was left unused by cruise ships for many years until 2015 when Carnival Corp. opened Amber Cove for Carnival cruise ships.
Today, there is a second cruise port at Taino Bay which was opened in 2021. Taino Bay will be used by cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line, MSC Cruises, and Virgin Voyages.
What was once a cargo pier is now able to accommodate up to two Royal Caribbean Oasis-class cruise ships in addition to a smaller vessel.
The Taino Bay cruise port in Puerto Plata offers a welcome area, shopping center with boutique shops, restaurant options, a beach club, and a free trolley service to the downtown colonial center. Although the ride to the city center is free it is recommended you tip the driver.
Best Things to do in Puerto Plata
So let’s get into our list of the best things to do in Puerto Plata, whether you’re on a cruise or staying overnight in this wonderful city. Many of these can be done as a shore excursion or on your own.
Visit the 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua
The 27 Waterfalls of Damajagua are located in the Northern Corridor mountain range in Imbert. Only a 30-minute drive from the cruise port, they are one of the country’s most popular attractions.
The waterfalls cascade down a series of rocky outcroppings and consist of nine larger falls, with a total drop of over 100 feet. Visitors to the area can climb and swim through the cascades, and there are also several smaller pools and natural slides along the way.
A guide is required for visitors to make sure everyone stays safe, and tours typically include all necessary equipment such as helmets, life jackets, and climbing harnesses. This gem of Puerto Plata is one of the best places to visit on the list. You can get more information about the waterfalls here.
Take a tour of the Ocean World Adventure Park
The Ocean World Adventure Park is a family-friendly marine theme park located on the Dominican Republic’s northern coast. There are a ton of attractions there, including aquariums, dolphin shows, animal encounters, and water slides. If you’re looking for something the whole family can enjoy this might be a good stop for you. And it’s just 3 miles from Puerto Plata.
You can also explore the tropical rainforest, feed the sea lions, and swim with dolphins. The park hosts a variety of educational programs to teach visitors about ocean conservation and sustainability. It also offers food services and souvenir shops for those looking to take home a special memory.
Check out the official Ocean World website here.
Go snorkeling or scuba diving at Sosúa Bay
Sosúa Bay is a popular spot for snorkeling and scuba diving in the Dominican Republic. It features crystal clear waters, plenty of fish, and even shipwrecks that are fun to explore.
There are several dive shops in the area that can provide equipment and guide you through the dive sites. There is a beautiful beach there as well, but it can get a little crowded at certain times. The beach town of Sosúa is only a 20 minute drive east of the cruise port.
Relax on the sandy beaches of Playa Dorada
Playa Dorada is a beautiful beach located right in Puerto Plata. It is known for its white sand and turquiose blue waters. In Playa Dorada you can relax on the beach and take part in a variety of activities such as swimming, snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, boating, and windsurfing.
There are also plenty of restaurants near the beach offering delicious local cuisine. By the way, the hospitality of people in the Dominican Republic is hard to beat. The area also has some great shopping opportunities including souvenir shops, art galleries, and clothing stores.
Explore the historic town of San Felipe de Puerto Plata
San Felipe de Puerto Plata is just the official name of Puerto Plata. The historic down town area is a real treat to visit with all the colorful buildings and clean, open spaces. It was founded in the 1500s and is known for its Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets, and colorful plazas.
The city is a popular tourist destination due to its picturesque beaches and nearby attractions such as the Fortaleza San Felipe, which was built in 1564 to protect the city from pirates. The city is also home to all kinds of cultural sites, including museums, galleries, and theaters. Don’t forget to check out Pink Street and Umbrella Street as just two examples of the fun, colorful vibe the center of town offers.
Take a cable car ride to the top of Mount Isabel de Torres
A $10 ride up the mountain offers breathtaking views of the surrounding area, but there’s more to do at the top of the mountain as well. You’ll actually find a national park at the top. As you walk around you will see signs for a lagoon, caves, and a statue of Christ the Redeemer, which is reminiscent of the statue at Rio de Janeiro.
The lagoon is man-made and not too impressive, but the vegetation and beautiful pathways that weave through the woods as you walk under vine archways is really a wonderful experience for nature lovers. You almost get a bird’s eye view of the city below and can get some great panoramic pictures from up there. It is half a mile above the valley after all. There is a restaurant at the top and restrooms as well.
Drive the Malecón
The Malecón of Puerto Plata is a boardwalk located on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic. It is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the area, drawing visitors from all over the world to its stunning views and vibrant atmosphere.
This beautiful stretch of coastline and long beaches stretches for nearly four miles, providing plenty of opportunities to explore and take in the sights. Along the way, tourists can find a variety of restaurants, shops, hotels, and other attractions.
The Malecón also has an adjoining beach where visitors can enjoy swimming, sunbathing and other activities. With its picturesque scenery and lively atmosphere, it’s no wonder why so many travelers come to experience this captivating attraction.
By the way, the term “malecón” is particularly associated with the Caribbean and Latin American countries, where it is often used to describe a wide waterfront promenade or walkway that is built along the edge of the sea or a large body of water.
Go horseback riding through the countryside or along the beach
Yes, horseback riding is available in Puerto Plata. There are a variety of tour companies that offer guided rides through the countryside or along the beach. Many of these tours include stops at local attractions and scenic lookouts, giving visitors an up-close view of the beautiful Dominican Republic landscape.
Visit the Amber Museum
The Amber Museum of Puerto Plata is a must-see for anyone interested in learning about the Dominican Republic’s rich history and culture. . The museum is home to more than 200 pieces of amber. You can observe an array of different colors and shapes of amber, as well as the fossils that are encased within it.
— Paola Garcia (@DRgotsoul) September 20, 2019
The museum also offers guided tours for visitors who would like to learn more about this amber. Additionally, there is a gift shop where visitors can purchase authentic Dominican Republic amber jewelry, which is pretty much a must as a keepsake for visiting The Amber Coast anyway.
Play a round of golf at one of the many championship golf courses
Puerto Plata is a popular destination for golfers, with several championship-level courses to choose from. One of the most highly rated courses in the area is the Playa Dorada Golf Course, which is an 18-hole par 71 course designed by Robert Trent Jones Sr. Other notable courses include The Links at Cocotal, Los Mangos Golf & Country Club and Costa Dorada Golf Club.
Take a boat tour to see the beautiful coastline of Puerto Plata
There are many boat tour operators in Puerto Plata that offer a variety of boat tours to explore the coastline. Whether you want to do a half-day or full-day tour, you can find one that fits your schedule and budget.
Most boat tours will take you along the coast, showing off the stunning views of cliffs, beaches, lagoons, and other natural wonders. You may also spot some marine life such as dolphins and sea turtles along the way. For whale enthusiasts we have something on this list for you too.
Go kiteboarding or windsurfing
Sandcastle festivals, kite boarding gatherings, and squirrel monkeys can all be found in Puerto Plata. There are so many unique experiences in the Dominican Republic! #RediscoverPuertoPlata pic.twitter.com/GbsbEOzyfW
— Vacation Couple (@Vacation_Couple) September 6, 2018
Puerto Plata is a great spot to go kiteboarding or windsurfing and is considered one of the best places for this in fact. The city has some of the best conditions for both sports, with reliable winds and plenty of wide open spaces to practice and explore with these extreme kites.
There are several schools and rental centers located in the area that offer lessons, gear rental and guided tours. Kiteboarding and windsurfing can be enjoyed all year round in Puerto Plata, with peak season running from December through March.
Check out La Puntilla Amphitheater
La Puntilla Amphitheater is a popular destination in the area and it’s right next to the fort mentioned later in this article. Located on the seafront promenade of the Malecón, and facing the Atlantic Ocean, this open-air theater is home to many festivals and cultural events throughout the year. It features natural seating on grassy slopes and a colorful stage that offers visitors stunning views of the sea.
The amphitheater has hosted concerts by world-famous musicians, including Daddy Yankee, Juan Luis Guerra, Victor Manuelle, and Tito Nieves. La Puntilla Amphitheater also hosts movie screenings, art exhibitions, fashion shows, and other exciting activities for all ages.
Visit the Altos de Chavon, a replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village
The Altos de Chavón is an amazing place to visit in the Dominican Republic. Located on the banks of the Chavón River near La Romana, this replica of a 16th-century Mediterranean village was created by fashion designer Gianni Versace and architect Roberto Copa. Here you can explore its cobblestone streets and admire its colorful buildings, all while taking in the breathtaking views of the Caribbean Sea.
Inside, you can browse art galleries, craft workshops, and boutiques featuring local handmade crafts. The amphitheater hosts live music performances where guests can dance to traditional rhythms and enjoy delicious food from local restaurants. It’s a great day out for anyone looking for a unique cultural experience.
Get more information about Altos de Chavon here.
Tour the ruins of La Isabela
La Isabela is a historical site near the city proper. It was the first European settlement established in the Americas by Christopher Columbus and his crew in 1493. The site was declared a National Monument of the Dominican Republic in 1942 and today it is managed by the National History and Anthropology Institute.
Visitors to La Isabela can explore its ruins which include the remains of several houses, a fortification and a cemetery as well as other structures that were part of this original settlement. There is also an archaeological museum onsite which houses artifacts from the time Columbus sailed to America. Tours are available at La Isabela with knowledgeable guides who provide information about this important piece of history.
Take a stroll through the National Botanical Garden
The National Botanical Garden in Puerto Plata is a highlight of the Dominican Republic. It covers an area of over 150 acres and features a variety of plant species from around the world. The garden is divided into five main areas, each with its own unique ecosystem.
Here you can explore the lush tropical forest and marvel at exotic flowers in the orchid house. And why not take in amazing views from the viewpoint, and discover hidden gems like rare palm trees and colorful birds along the way? There are also walking paths that lead to a waterfall and other attractions. With its breathtaking beauty, it’s no wonder why this garden is a popular destination for visitors to Puerto Plata.
Go zip lining through the jungle canopy at the Monkey Jungle Adventure Park
If you love monkeys this one is a must-see. Monkey Jungle Adventure Park is located on 280 acres of land between Sosúa and Cabarete, about 6 miles from the road to El Choco National Park. This park is known for its beautiful setting and wide range of activities, including a seven-station zip line, a botanical garden, and an ancient Taino cave that visitors can explore.
The park is home to friendly squirrel capuchin monkeys that interact with visitors and may even climb on your shoulders for a photo op. Just be forewarned you might not want to wear your favorite clothing on this one.
In addition to providing a fun and exciting experience for visitors, Monkey Jungle Adventure Park also serves as a recovery center for rescued capuchin monkeys. While at the park, you can tour the botanical gardens, zip line across the farm (with runs up to 800 feet long), or try the Cave Descender, a thrilling cable-controlled drop into a cave that is 60 feet deep.
Learn about the history of the region at the Fortaleza San Felipe
The Fortaleza San Felipe is a fortification in Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic. It is located at the entrance of the bay of Puerto Plata. The fort was built by the Spanish in 1577 to protect the city from pirates and other attackers.
It underwent several modifications over time and served as a military base for many years until it was abandoned in 1975. Today, it serves as a tourist attraction and museum showcasing the history of the region.
Now you can explore the fortress and learn about its past, including its use during colonial times, when it served as an outpost of Spanish defense against British attacks during the 18th century.
You can also visit interactive exhibits which feature artifacts from different historical eras, such as weapons used during battles, old photographs and documents related to local history.
Go on a safari tour through the nearby Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve
The Ebano Verde Scientific Reserve is one of the most stunning natural areas in Puerto Plata and a great place to go on an adventurous safari tour. It is home to some of the best bird watching spots in the Dominican Republic, as well as an abundance of other wildlife including monkeys, iguanas, and even crocodiles.
On your tour you can expect to see plenty of lush tropical vegetation and beautiful waterfalls cascading down from the mountain slopes. As you journey through the reserve, your guide will be able to point out interesting plants and animals along the way. You may also have a chance to spot some of the rare species that live in this protected area.
Check out the local crafts and souvenirs at the Artisan’s Village in Sosúa
The Artisan’s Village in Sosúa near Puerto Plata offers a great selection of local crafts and souvenirs. The village is home to several local craftspeople, who make handmade items such as jewelry, leather goods, wood carvings, pottery, and other unique items. You can also find a variety of Dominican souvenirs, including hats, t-shirts, keychains, and postcards. Be sure to take the time to explore all the amazing handicrafts and pick up the perfect souvenir.
Go deep-sea fishing and try to catch some of the area’s abundant marlin, tuna, and wahoo
Deep-sea fishing in Puerto Playa is an amazing experience and the area is known for its abundance of marlin, tuna, and wahoo. There are many charter fishing companies who offer day trips out to the best spots. You can expect to catch a variety of species depending on the season and time of year.
The best time to go deep-sea fishing in Puerto Playa is typically between November and May, when the waters are at their warmest. If you’re lucky, you might even spot some whales or dolphins while you’re out there! No matter what type of fish you’re looking for, Puerto Playa has something for everyone.
Go rafting or kayaking on the Rio Yaque del Norte
The Rio Yaque del Norte in Puerto Plata is a popular spot for white water rafting and kayaking with rapids ranging from Class I to Class IV. You can choose to do either self-guided or guided tours, both of which are available from local tour operators. The tour operators can provide all the necessary equipment including life jackets, helmets and paddles as well as safety briefings.
Visit the Columbus Aquapark
The Columbus Aquapark is an outdoor water park with a variety of attractions, including a lazy river, wave pool, and waterslides. The park also features a full day of entertainment and activities such as live shows, live Merengue music, games, and more. Visitors can also enjoy a variety of food and drinks available at the on-site restaurant. With its convenient location just off the main highway in Puerto Plata, it’s easy to reach the Columbus Aquapark for a fun day out with family or friends.
Take a day trip to the nearby town of Cabarete
A day trip to the nearby town of Cabarete in Dominican Republic is a great way to experience the local culture and explore a new destination. Located on the north coast of the Dominican Republic, Cabarete is known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. The town boasts a wide range of activities, such as kiteboarding, windsurfing, and sailing, making it an ideal destination for adventurers.
There are also plenty of restaurants and cafes in the area. You can explore nearby attractions like Playa Encuentro beach or take a boat trip to Sosúa Bay. With its stunning beaches, exciting activities, and vibrant nightlife, Cabarete is definitely worth visiting.
Go on a whale-watching tour to see humpback whales and other marine life
A whale-watching tour in Puerto Plata is a great way to witness the wonders of humpback whales and other amazing marine life. There are several operators offering tours that depart from the port of Puerto Plata, allowing you to take in the beauty of the ocean and its inhabitants.
These tours typically last around 2-3 hours and include not only the spotting of humpback whales, but also dolphins, sea turtles and more. Whether you choose a large boat or a smaller vessel, you will be able to get up close with these majestic creatures. As well as providing a unique experience, these tours are also educational – your guide will provide you with interesting facts about the animals that you’ll encounter during the trip.
Enjoy a local all-inclusive beach resort
1. Be Live Collection Marien – Located in Puerto Plata, this all-inclusive beach resort offers a variety of activities and amenities, including a private beach, multiple swimming pools, several restaurants and bars, and many recreational facilities.
2. Viva Wyndham Tangerine – Situated right on the beautiful golden sands of Playa Dorada beach in Puerto Plata, this all-inclusive resort boasts an array of dining options, a full service spa and wellness center, sports activities and more.
3. Lifestyle Tropical Beach Resort & Spa – Offering stunning views of the lush green mountains and white sandy beaches of Puerto Plata’s coast, this all-inclusive resort features an array of amenities that include five restaurants and bars, a nightclub, two swimming pools and much more.
4. Paradisus Puerto Plata Resort – This luxurious all-inclusive resort offers its guests an unforgettable stay with its eight restaurants and bars, five swimming pools, fully equipped fitness center and spa treatments.
Explore the Maimón region to the west of Puerto Plata
The Maimón region is known for its beautiful beaches, lush jungles, and unique wildlife. Visitors can explore the local culture and enjoy activities such as scuba diving, horseback riding, zip-lining, and hiking. The nearby waterfalls are also a popular destination for visitors to Maimón.
There are also many resorts in this area that cater to tourists looking for a relaxing getaway. Visitors can also take a tour of the historic sites and monuments in the area, such as the Loma de la Cruz Church, built in 1842. Other attractions include El Choco National Park and Cueva del Puente Cave.
River Maimon, Dominican Republic 🇩🇴☁️
📸: pedromestres | IG pic.twitter.com/t9Qx6Iu9jQ
— Caribbean Traveler (@CaribExplores) January 12, 2022
Take in some culture at Casa de la Cultura
Casa de la Cultura in Puerto Plata is a cultural center that provides educational and cultural activities for the community. It offers classes in theater, dance, music, painting, photography, sculpture and more. The center also has an art gallery and hosts various events throughout the year.
FAQ on Puerto Plata
Is Puerto Plata nicer than Punta Cana?
If you’re trying to decide between a trip to Puerto Plata or Punta Cana, it’s tough to say which is the “nicer” destination – it really comes down to personal preference. Puerto Plata is located on the north coast of the island and is known for its beautiful beaches and historical landmarks. It’s also a great spot for adventure seekers, with activities like zip lining and horseback riding available. The city is also known for its colonial-style architecture, which adds to its charm.
On the other hand, Punta Cana is located on the eastern tip of the island and is known for its luxurious all-inclusive resorts and stunning beaches. If relaxation is more your thing, Punta Cana is a great choice – it’s known for its spas and golf courses, and is the perfect spot to kick back and unwind.
Did Puerto Plata get hit by a hurricane recently?
No, Puerto Plata was not directly hit by a hurricane in recent years. The closest hurricane to make landfall near Puerto Plata was Hurricane Irma in 2017, which made landfall on the northern coast of the Dominican Republic.
Where is the Puerto Plata airport and which airlines fly there?
Puerto Plata Airport (Gregorio Luperón International Airport) is located in San Felipe de Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic, just east of Puerto Plata. Airlines that fly to the airport include Avianca, Aeromexico, Air Canada, Air Europa, American Airlines, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue Airways, United Airlines and Volaris. The airport in Puerto Plata is about 10 miles from the cruise port. Depending on traffic, it usually takes about 20 to 30 minutes to drive between the two locations.
What time zone is Puerto Plata?
Puerto Plata is located in the Atlantic Standard Time Zone (AST).
Where Do Cruise Ships Dock in Puerto Plata?
Cruise ships owned by Carnival Corpiration dock at the Amber Cove Cruise Center in Puerto Plata. The cruise center is located approximately 15 miles from the city. Most other cruise lines like Royal Caribbean, Norwegian Cruise Line and MSC Cruises will dock at the Taino Bay cruise port.
Visiting Puerto Plata is a great way to experience the beauty and culture of the Dominican Republic. The Puerto Plata region has so much to offer with its stunning beaches, lush mountain ranges, vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway or an adventure-filled exploration of the area, there’s probably something for you around Puerto Plata.
From shopping in local markets to exploring historical sites and nature reserves, you’ll be able to make some incredible memories during your visit. Whether you’re visiting for a few days or staying a while longer, Puerto Plata is sure to leave you with unforgettable impressions.